Volatile Peshawar needs extraordinary security for polls

Volatile Peshawar needs extraordinary security for polls

PESHAWAR: With bombs being defused in rural Peshawar on almost every alternate day and major terror attacks occurring in all parts of the city for the last many weeks, the provincial capital would need extraordinary security arrangements to hold the upcoming general elections peacefully.

There are already intelligence reports that some high-profile political figures could be targetted during the electioneering. The city had lost its seasoned politician and senior minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour in a suicide attack near Qissa Khwani a few months back.Peshawar has witnessed worst law and order situation during the last many years. The situation improved to some extent in 2011 and most of 2012. However, militant attacks recorded a sudden increase in the last quarter of 2012 during which some of the biggest attacks in the city occurred.

The violence continued during the first three months of the current year until the authorities had no other option but to make administrative changes in the city police force in abide to improve the situation.A number of police officers rightly believe it is a war-like situation that needs to be handled by a specialised force. It is a fact that fighting war is not the job of the police who are only supposed to maintain law and order in a specific area while fighting criminals.

The force, however, has no option but to fight militancy in its area of jurisdiction as it has been assigned by the government to do so. Besides, it has to fight the criminal groups.A look at the geography of the Peshawar district shows that NA-4 and PK-6, PK-10 and PK- 11 are the constituencies where most of the trouble has happened during the last six months and more is feared during the coming weeks. These areas are located close to the boundary with Khyber Agency as well as Frontier Regions of Peshawar and Kohat.

Carrying out an election campaign in these constituencies will be a hard task for every political party, particularly the Awami National Party.Even on Sunday, a bomb was defused near Mashokhel area of Badaber Police Station that falls in PK-10 and NA-4 constituencies. Lawyer Khushdil Khan, who was elected member of the provincial assembly on the ANP ticket in the 2008 general elections, has survived major attacks by the militants. Former elected representatives, including nazims in PK-6, PK-10 and PK-11 have also suffered attacks during the last few years.

The northern NA-3 and PK-7, PK-8 and PK-9 are also some of the areas where trouble persists. The intensity of the problem in these areas, however, is not like that of NA-4.The fact is that even the urban constituencies of NA-1 and NA-2 as well as PK-1, 2, 3, 4 and PK-5 can never be declared safe for candidates, political leaders and general public. In fact, Bashir Bilour was elected from PK-3 and was killed by a suicide bomber in PK-2 and NA-1 while another former lawmaker Alamzeb Khan was killed in his urban constituency of PK-1.

The attacks on the Judicial Complex, the office of Khyber Agency’s political agent, Bacha Khan International Airport and many other major militant attacks have occurred in urban constituencies.While accomplishing the task of holding peaceful elections, the police, Frontier Constabulary and army, if called, will have to focus on the rural areas in south of Peshawar that are the prime target from the nearby tribal areas as well as a route for most of the attacks in urban Peshawar. – TheNews